Reporter's Note: President Obama is entering the final 65 days of his first year in office. It’s kind of hard to imagine that a quarter of his presidency is already gone, unless he is re-elected. Every day since his inauguration I’ve written a letter to the White House. That’s a little hard to imagine too.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/11/13/khalid.sheikh.mohammed/story.khalid.sheikh.mohammed2.gi.jpg caption="Khalid Sheikh Mohammed reportedly confessed to being the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks after being waterboarded." width=300 height=169]
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
Back in Colorado, during our neighborhood picnic each year, the teenage boys would challenge the men…most of us in our 30’s or 40’s…to a basketball game. They were faster, stronger, had played a lot more games recently; and yet every single time, we beat them. Huffing and puffing so loudly we sounded like a concertina band, we faked them out on shots, edged them out for rebounds, and pushed them out when they tried to muscle in.
The reason they kept losing was that they thought basketball skill was what mattered. The reason we kept winning was that we knew what really counted was patience, courage, confidence, and cunning.
I was thinking of that, amid all this debate over bringing those terrorism trials to a New York court, instead of keeping them in a military tribunal. We, as a nation, still aren’t precisely sure how to grapple with these particular opponents; in terms of our intelligence operations, our military power, or our system of justice. We are vastly more powerful, more educated, more technologically advanced, and our extraordinarily well-trained and dedicated troops can quite simply pound them to dust anywhere on the planet in head-to-head combat.
But the old men of the terrorist movements know that. So they refuse to engage on any terms except their own. They attack when we are not ready, and in ways we have not imagined. They use the world’s borders as fences to stop our armies. Their camouflage is a sea of civilians. They exploit our freedoms, our decency, and our courts against us in any way they can.
I’m not passing judgment on your decision about these trials. You and the rest of the political crowd will thoroughly gnaw that bone without me. I’m saying, the reason we are agonizing is because we still don’t know how we want to treat these enemies. We know we are locked in a dirty, global war, full of cheating; but we’re not yet sure how to win it without getting dirty, and cheating ourselves.
Hope your Monday is off to a good start. Call if you can.
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